I’ve been to Bogotá, Colombia quite a few times so far this year. Next week, I will go for my 10th time in 2011, so I feel that I can speak rather confidently about the question that seems to be on the forefront of most people’s minds when discussing this amazing city:
Is it safe to travel to Bogotá?
We’ve all heard the rumors about Colombia; there is violence that rivals the Middle East, and a drug trade that rivals the South Bronx’, per square mile. Corruption seems to be the standard operating procedure. Bombs have been planted several times over the last few years. From the ultra-leftist FARC rebels to the über-right death squads. It certainly doesn’t sound very safe.
Frankly, there is no simple answer. Colombia, a vast country, shouldn’t be generalized like a small neighborhood, and neither should Bogotá. Both the city and the nation as a whole have been working very hard over the last decade or so to erase the dreadful memory of their past. Colombia taken as one may not seem so safe yet. However, if we break the country up into smaller regions and ask the same question about just Bogotá, the answer may appear more positive.
The largest city, and likewise the most visited, is Bogotá. Hosting 52.5% of the total yearly visitors to Colombia, the numbers should put you more at ease already. Bogotá is the capital of the country, situated way up in the mountains, and is the third highest capital city in the world, in terms of elevation. The city is about as big as New York City, and most parts are fairly safe. A traveler using appropriate caution and discretion like they would in most American cities will most likely not find trouble. No nighttime exploration into the city’s alleys and other seedy spots.